Raleigh, Caroline du Nord – A health expert who spoke to WRAL News is concerned that the NC State Fair is not a safe place for the unvaccinated, immunocompromised and the elderly.
Jessica Dixon, infection prevention specialist at WakeMed, said high-risk groups should rethink going to the NC State Fair.
“Unvaccinated people are certainly the most at risk, but even vaccinated people who may be immunocompromised, people who are at higher risk for COVID-19, may want to consider whether or not now is the right time to visit.” , she said.
Masks and vaccines are encouraged to attend the state fair, but are not required. Additionally, food vendors will not be required to follow coronavirus protocols at the North Carolina State Fair this year.
Wake County is distributing flyers to 147 food vendors encouraging them to wear fabric face covers, frequently sanitize surfaces and check temperatures for employees.
Dixon encourages people who plan to obtain food from vendors to eat out and wash their hands before eating.
“Food has not been shown to be a major source of transmission of COVID-19, so your greatest risk when eating will be putting your hands close to your face, especially when eating food. fair, ”Dixon says. “These are all finger food, food in hand. “
By the time the fair begins on Thursday, each booth will have a yellow inspection certificate indicating that it has passed the county checklist.
“We encourage frequent hand washing, and I want to stress that this is part of food safety anyway,” said Ginger Johnson, spokesperson for Wake County Event Permitting. “It’s something that has been ongoing: social distancing as much as possible, wearing masks. “
But at the end of the day, the government does not enforce any regulations on sellers. It is up to each individual to decide how they safely navigate the fair – even if the County and City of Raleigh have a mask mandate in place. The mandate applies to places such as grocery stores, restaurants and retail businesses.
Vendors at the fair told WRAL News that they will do their best to follow the protocols, even during high traffic.
Wiley Greene, a salesperson from Indiana, wears a face mask and checks the temperatures of his staff daily. Greene said he would do whatever it takes to make customers feel safe.
The NC State Fair also offers rides and special areas for children, and children 12 and under are not yet eligible for the coronavirus vaccine. Dixon suggests that unvaccinated children are also at high risk of catching the virus, so this year might not be the best to attend.
“I think the kids probably handled this better than us as adults because they’re a lot more used to pivoting than we are,” she said.
The state fair was canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, at the expense of the state’s millions of dollars. The show attracted more than 938,000 people during its 11 days in 2019.
North Carolina reported 2,148 more coronavirus infections on Tuesday, bringing the average to 3,299 per day over the past week. The good news is that the average number of coronavirus cases has now declined for 25 consecutive days.
More Americans are deciding to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 1 million more people get vaccinated every day, according to health officials.
While Wake County has a relatively high vaccination rate – 65% of the population is fully vaccinated – some surrounding counties have vaccination rates as low as 30%, and the fair is known to attract people from all over the world. State.
“Regardless of your immunization status, I think you need to do a risk assessment,” Dixon said. “Both for your own help and for the help of those around you when deciding whether or not to go to the fair. “
Health experts speculate that the delta variant of the coronavirus has not finished running its course. Cooler weather can increase infection rates as more people spend time indoors.
Data from other states suggests the fair, although mostly outdoors, could be a driver in coronavirus cases. In Minnesota, nearly 300 cases of coronavirus have been linked to the Minnesota State Fair. More than 100 cases of the coronavirus have been linked to the Washington State Fair last month.
“You are starting to see a slight increase in cases in the colder parts of the country and as people are driven inside without masks,” former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr Scott said on Monday. Gottlieb.
New cases of the coronavirus have jumped more than 10% in the past two weeks in five states – Montana, Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan and Vermont.
“The delta wave did not pass through the United States,” Gottlieb said, according to CNN. “I think we have a few months left. “